how do you measure up?

Do you consider yourself above average?

Are you one of those folks who always does everything they are expected to do?

Over the past couple of months I spent many hours doing annual reviews. I did  my own self-evaluation, the evaluation of my doctors after they finished their own self evaluations, the evaluations of many of my peers, my boss, my partner-vice president, plus a variety of others with whom I work who requested my input. All in all I probably did some form of written and/or verbal review for about 60 individuals.

Sometimes this bothers me.

I mean, the time it takes bothers me. But most of the time (mostly when I am not doing them) I believe they are helpful to at least one of us, and hopefully both of us. Its hard to not become jaded by reading so many self-evaluations and trying to avoid using platitudes when actually performing the review. Some folks routinely give themselves the highest possible grade in all areas. Others tend to rate themselves on the low side.

The tendency, of course is to tell everyone they are wonderful, since we always want folks to walk away happy--or at least walk away without argument. How does one stay truthful yet forthright? Open and mentoring without being critical and making folks feel uninspired?

In fact, everyone IS wonderful, in their own way.

The key is to find the one thing they do better than anyone else. Some folks may do many things better then the majority of their colleagues, and that 's great. But even those who have many issues to work on need to hear about their positive attributes. And that is what I find so useful about these reviews.

I am able to look at all the physicians in my department and find their special talents, so that I can comment on those abilities, and help them to grow that part of their personalities. It helps me to be able to keep that knowledge in my heart the rest of the year. Makes it much easier for me to tell other chairs or my boss how great the docs in my department are and really mean it. Once I have identified the key positive attribute for each one, it makes it easier to identify with them the areas in which they might not be excelling, and encourage them to work on those aspects, which can then become goals for the coming year.

I also find that I can ask for feedback in an open ended way, to make sure that I am meeting people's needs. This helps me to be able to fine-tune my approach to running my department, and my abilities as a mentor and supporter of my people. Am I accessible? Have I helped you solve any problems that have come up this year? Where and when could I have performed better as your leader? Usually, I have opened them up, helped them to feel good about themselves even if we have talked about some areas in which they need to improve, and they will tell me what they are thinking.

Some other leaders have advised me to leave the performance reviews to the section heads, and have them do the evaluations for the rest of the faculty. I could do that. I have the right and authroity to decide that this is how I would do it. But I don't want to. I believe that each of my faculty members deserves to have my undivided attention for at least an hour a year, and to receive feedback directly from me. Some come to me with issues all year, but some try very hard to "not bother" me, and so I may not really know them very well. I like knowing people. I like communicating, and I think that having the process of the annual review to remind me to connect with each of them as individuals is a great thing.

It is always amazing to me how nervous people get when they know they are coming to see me for their annual review. I have never done anything bad during a review, so I am not sure why that is--just human nature I guess. None of us really like to be judged--at least when there is a chance the judgement might not be wonderful.

Have you experienced the annual review process?

I would love to see your comments, whether from the employee side, the manager side, or the spouse or detached observer side. What is your perspective on the annual process. What works, what doesn't, how should it be done to do it better?

Recent Comments

Andrea, Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind comments.

Such nice comments, Claudia. Thanks for your support.

You are a great role model, Alice. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about performance evaluation processes.

This is a very thoughtful post favorite line is "The key is to find the one thing they do better than anyone else"...this is what I strive to do with my team and it is what seems to work best. I have always been a "you attract more bees with honey" kind of leader...I give out a lot of positive praise and if I need to correct behavior, I have the staff member tell me what THEY think they could/should do differently/better next time.
Thanks for a great post!

"The main promise I make them is that they will never see anything negative on their review that we have not discussed previously and that they have had an opportunity to work on."

Love this!

Yes, Cathi, I agree that we need to be communicating in person all through the year so that people can learn and grow while the issues are current. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I only have about a dozen people to review, plus those who ask me to do a peer review on them. The main promise I make them is that they will never see anything negative on their review that we have not discussed previously and that they have had an opportunity to work on. I think it is important that they know there won't be any major surprises.

Leave a comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture.
Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

Close to home links

Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital
Carilion Clinic Pediatric Services
Children’s Miracle Network
Follow me on Twitter
Pediatric Residency Facebook Page
The AAP website for parents
Just the Vax
Moms Who Vax blog
Parents Who Protect
Roanoke Times Medical blog
Running a hospital blog


Via RSS  |  Via Email


Follow me